While it seemed extremely promising two weeks ago, Canonical’s crowdfunding campaign for the Ubuntu Edge seems to have hit a wall in terms of bringing in new pledges. With only 14 days left in the campaign, as of this writing there’s over $23.2 million left to raise.
To stimulate interest in the phone—which looks extremely powerful, runs dual-boot Ubuntu Mobile and Android, and can be used as a full Ubuntu desktop computer when plugged into a monitor—the price of each handset has been lowered from $830 to $695 for backers. That’s about a hundred bucks more than the day-one backers paid for their phones, and backers who paid $830 will get refunds for the difference. But while this is good news for backers, it’s something of a gamble for the campaign: as pointed out by a TechCrunch post, the price cut means that instead of having to pre-sell 28,000 phones to make its goal, Canonical will now have to sell over 33,000. But according to a post on its Indiegogo campaign page, Canonical isn’t too worried:
“The target is still $32 million, so we will need to ship a few more phones at $695 than we would at a higher price, but we believe we can do it. We have two weeks, and we have the best community out there, so let’s get to work: share this news, get the word out, and let’s get the Ubuntu Edge made!”
While the price drop seems like a pretty naked grab for more interest from potential backers, Canonical says that it’s the result of some corporate backing from Bloomberg LP, which purchased the $80,000 “Enterprise” package of 115 handsets. Here’s what Bloomberg’s Chief Technology Officer, Shawn Edwards, had to say about the Edge:
“Bloomberg supports open innovation and initiatives, such as Ubuntu Edge, that align with our software development and business priorities. With this investment, Bloomberg developers will contribute to an open technology initiative that could benefit our clients and have a powerful impact on the future of mobile computing.”
Canonical hopes that this is just the start of corporate backing, but even if the crowd-funding campaign manages to move all 49 of the other Enterprise packages, that’ll only account for another $3.2 million in pledged funds. In short, it’s got a long way to go, and the momentum has slowed considerably from the millions it was pulling in during its first few days.
It is worthy of note that the Edge will not be available outside of this campaign. That said, if the campaign fails, that just demonstrates how untenable and idea it actually is. I’m still extremely interested in the Edge, but I just don’t have the kind of scratch to drop on a phone I can’t try, can’t read reviews for, can’t even hold until after I’ve already ponied up the dough. Even the new, bargain price of $695 is more than I’ve got to spend.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to succeed. What do you think? Will there be a big push toward the end? It seems as though “Edge” might turn out to be a pretty appropriate name for this device. Chances are good the campaign will go right up to the edge…or simply fall right off it.